US 7134887 B1
An AC adapter assembly having an adapter with an AC input and a DC output, a wall socket connector that includes an AC input connector member configured for insertion into the input of the adapter and a plurality of prongs configured for both insertion into a wall socket and movable from an in-use position to a storage position and the wall socket connector is configured to remain within the thinnest dimension of the adapter; and a DC connector is described.
1. A wall socket connector for an AC adapter comprising:
a wall socket connecting element including a plurality of prongs rotateable in unison and configured to rest in complimentary recesses of a wall socket;
an AC input connector member having a mating surface complimentary to an inlet connector; and
a housing rotateably connecting the wall socket connecting element and the AC input connector so as to permit the plurality of prongs of the wall socket connecting element to be rotated about two perpendicular axis of rotation.
2. The wall socket connector for an AC adapter of
3. The wall socket connector for an AC adapter of
4. The wall socket connector for an AC adapter of
5. The wall socket connector for an AC adapter of
6. The wall socket connector for an AC adapter of
7. The wall socket connector for an AC adapter of
8. The wall socket connector for an AC adapter of
9. An AC adapter assembly comprising:
an adapter including an adapter AC input on a first end and a adapter DC output on a second opposing end;
a wall socket connector including a plurality of prongs configured for insertion into a wall socket and an AC input connector member configured for insertion into the input of the adapter, the plurality of prongs being rotateable about two perpendicular axis of rotation; and
a DC connector including a DC connector input configured to connect to the adapter DC output, a DC connector output, and a linking member movably connecting the DC connector input and DC connector output, wherein the wall socket connector, the adapter and the DC connector are operably connected such that AC input to the plurality of prongs of the wall socket connector is converted to DC and output by the adapter DC output.
10. The AC adapter assembly of
11. The AC adapter assembly of
12. The AC adapter assembly of
13. The AC adapter assembly of
14. The AC adapter assembly of
15. The AC adapter assembly of
16. An AC adapter assembly comprising:
a wall socket connecting element for receiving AC from a wall socket including a plurality of prongs rotateable through a range of rotation in each of a first plane and a second plane, the first and second planes being perpendicular;
an adapting component for transforming input AC to DC for output;
a DC connector for outputting DC; and
a housing containing the adapting component, wall socket connecting element, and DC connector, wherein the adapting component, the wall socket connecting element, and the DC connector are fully integrated within the housing.
17. The AC adapter assembly of
18. The AC adapter assembly of
an in-use position in which the plurality of prongs of the wall socket connecting element are positioned to run substantially perpendicular to a longest dimension of the housing and a storage position in which the plurality of prongs of the wall socket connecting element are positioned to run substantially parallel to a longest dimension of the housing.
19. The AC adapter assembly of
20. The AC adapter assembly of
Mobile PCs, e.g. laptops, are common portable electronic devices. Many mobile PCs use an AC (alternating current) adapter that converts the alternating current from a wall outlet to DC (direct current) when a laptop is not running exclusively on a portable power source, e.g. batteries. An IEC-320 C8 Low Current Power Inlet Connector is a component very commonly used in conventional AC adapters at the inlet to the AC adapter. While the inlet of the AC adapter may be described as a generally universal component, wall socket connectors linking the wall socket to the IEC-320 C8 Low Current Power Inlet Connector vary in function and structure.
One wall socket connector available for use with mobile PCs is a separate cable for connection between the wall socket and the IEC-320 C8 inlet. This cable is typically bulky and limits the mobility of the PC, as the user must carry a bag in order to carry the adapter which they also must carry in order to recharge the batteries. Another, wall socket commonly referred to as a “duckhead” includes both the plug that fits into the adapter and the requisite prongs that connect the wall socket protruding from a single plastic shell. While some “duckheads” have movable prongs, most do not.
Non-movable prongs that protrude from the plastic shell hinder transport of the AC adapter and increase the risk of damage to the prongs during transport as well as objects that may scrape against the prongs.
To overcome limitations in the prior art described above, and to overcome other limitations that will be apparent upon reading and understanding the present specification, aspects of the present invention are directed to a wall socket connector and an AC adapter assembly including a wall socket connector.
A first aspect of the invention provides a wall socket connector including a wall socket connecting element, an AC input connector member, and a housing rotateably linking the features described above.
A second aspect of the invention provides an AC adapter assembly including a wall socket connector, an adapter component and a DC connector, the assembly having an in-use position and a storage position.
A third aspect of the invention provides a fully integrated AC adapter assembly including a wall socket connector, an adapter component, a DC connector and a housing, the assembly having an in-use position and a storage position.
A fourth aspect of the invention provides an AC adapter assembly including a wall socket connector, an adapter component, and a DC connector that includes a retractable element.
A fifth aspect of the invention provides a wall socket connector including a wall socket connecting element, an AC input connector member, a housing rotateably linking the features described above, and user assisting elements placed on the wall socket connector to facilitate use and manipulation of the wall socket connector.
A more complete understanding of the aspects of the present invention and the advantages thereof may be acquired by referring to the following description in consideration of the accompanying drawings, in which like reference numbers indicate like features.
In the following description of the various embodiments, reference is made to the accompanying drawings, which form a part hereof, and in which is shown by way of illustration various embodiments in which the invention may be practiced. It is to be understood that other embodiments may be used and structural and functional modifications may be made without departing from the scope of the present invention.
It is noted that various connections are set forth between elements in the following description. It is noted that these connections in general and, unless specified otherwise, may be direct or indirect and that this specification is not intended to be limiting in this respect.
Numerous types of portable computers are commonly available including notebook computers, tablet computers, PDAs etc. It is common for portable computer manufacturers, e.g. laptop manufacturers, to provide AC adapters with their portable computers for use in powering the portable computers directly or for charging power supplies such as batteries.
While not depicted in
As mentioned in the background, typical AC adapter assemblies use a wall socket connector mostly comprised of a lengthy and cumbersome cord that connects connector 132A to the wall socket for providing AC to adapter 130. In the alternative, a few AC adapter assemblies use a wall socket connector that uses a single plastic shell containing prongs and a plug for connection into connector 132A and are sometimes referred to as “duckheads.” However, these current wall socket connectors or “duckheads” possess significant short comings. These shortcomings include a configuration that greatly increases the size of the adapter assembly including increase in the smallest dimension so as to complicate transport of the adapter assembly, a propensity for the assembly to fall from the wall socket while in use, and a requirement for customization of design that greatly increase the cost of manufacture, reduces interoperability, and increases confusion among users.
As depicted in
Connected to housing 350 on an alternate side, AC input connector member 330 includes a conduit 335 containing a IEC 320-C8 inlet connector 333 that connects to a connector 132A of adapter 130. Conduit 335, as depicted, has a shape that can be characterized as a double cylinder with a connecting strip located between the cylinders. IEC 320-C8 inlet connector 333, hereafter “inlet connector 333,” is contained within conduit 335. When AC input connector member 330 is connected to adapter 130, at least a portion of conduit sits below the outermost surface of the end which it is connected to on adapter 130.
In the illustrative in-use position depicted in
While prongs 315 may be positioned generally perpendicular to AC input connector 330 when in-use, a second position wherein prongs 315 are positioned to be generally parallel to AC input connector member 330 is depicted in
Prongs 315 are attached to housing 350 at a pivot (e.g. internal to housing 350 and not visible in
To permit prongs 315 to rotate in a manner similar to that previously described, housing 350 may be configured and/or sized so as to permit rotation. In the embodiments depicted in
Additionally, housing 350 is constructed to possess recesses 313 complimentary in size to corresponding dimensions of prongs 315 to allow prongs 315 to rotate into recesses 313 as wall socket connector 300 is converted from an in-use position to a storage position. The recesses 313 are typically molded as part of housing 350 during construction of housing 350. Recessess 313 are typically formed deep enough into housing 350 to permit prongs 315 to sit as shown in
As depicted in
Accordingly, only a small portion of prongs 315 are visible and accessible when wall socket connector 300 is placed in the storage position of
While the protrusion of a portion of prongs 315 from the housing in a direction generally perpendicular to AC input connector member 330 acts as one illustrative user assisting element for manipulating wall socket connector 300 into various positions, additional user assisting elements may be used. For example, in the embodiment of
Here, user assisting element 355 is a chamfer. In general, user assisting elements may be recognizable to a user's senses thereby facilitating rapid and easy manipulation of wall socket connector 300. Typically, user assisting elements are perceptible by touch, sight or both. Many different user assisting elements including raised surfaces and grooves in addition to the depicted chamfer may be used to provide the desired effect.
Various embodiments of adapter 130 are well known in the art and adapter 130 may possess any of the electronic characteristics of those adapters that are commonly known. Among the most obvious characteristics adapter 130 may possess is the ability to convert AC to DC via components within adapter 130. Further, adapter 130 typically possesses a rectangular shape, however, adapters having a different shapes are in existence. While adapter 130 may have any shape known in the art, adapter 130 will typically be rectangular in shape as this is the most common shape used. Additionally, using a rectangular adapter facilitates mating and alignment in an adapter assembly with a wall socket connector configured like the illustrative wall socket connector depicted in
Adapter 130 also typically includes an output end 139 to which DC connector 160 is attached. DC connector 160 typically links adapter 130, which converts AC to DC, to devices intended to receive DC current. DC connector 160 may include DC input connector 161 which connects to output end 139 of adapter and DC output connector 169 which may connect directly to a portable computer. Connecting DC input connector 161 and DC output connector may be a cord 165 which typically is flexible and permits three dimensional movement of DC input connector 161 and DC output connector 169 relative to each other. DC connectors are well known in the art and any conventional DC connector may be used.
However, one specific DC connector 160 may be used in conjunction with wall socket connector 300 to provide a further embodiment of an AC adapter assembly (not depicted). When wall socket connector 300 as previously described is combined with a DC connector 160 with a retractable cord, an AC adapter assembly is formed. Specifically, wall socket connector 300 may placed in a storage position, e.g.
Certain embodiments of adapter assemblies, for example the embodiment depicted in
In particular, the illustrative embodiment depicted in
The embodiment in
As previously mentioned, the AC adapter assembly described herein may have a retractable feature including a retractable cord 165B.
While aspects of the invention has been described with respect to specific examples including presently preferred modes of carrying out the invention, those skilled in the art will appreciate that there are numerous variations and permutations of the above described systems and techniques. Thus, the spirit and scope of the invention should be construed broadly as set forth in the appended claims.